Heathrow Increases Flight Capacity By Stealth

“The dismantling of the 1952 Cranford Agreement limiting the use of the runways at Heathrow has led to a back door approach by Heathrow to dramatically increase flights from the airport” claims Murad Qureshi, London Assembly Member and Labour Group lead on the Environment, after seeing recent reports presented at a meeting of the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee (HACC)*.

The works necessary to extend the use of the airport and take advantage of the new arrangements could pave the way for extensive mixed mode use of the airport’s two runways and a dramatic increase of flights in and out of the airport. Heathrow’s capacity was capped at 480,000 movements a year under the terms for Terminal 5 planning permission. However, current moves could mean that this cap is lifted and there could be up to 515,000 movements a year in the future.

Although any new works will require planning permission and consultation before going ahead locals fear that this is an underhand means of increasing he use of the airport and just a foot in the door for wider and more damaging changes.

Similar concerns were also expressed by London Assembly members in a motion they passed in June this year.


Notes for Editors

Murad Qureshi is the Labour Group environment spokesperson and deputy chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee.

He is the London Assembly’s representative on the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee

The Cranford verbal agreement introduced runway alternation in the 1950’s it stipulated that the northern runway should not be used for take offs in an easterly direction over Cranford unless unavoidable.

In 2009 the Secretary of State announced that the Cranford Agreement would end and introduce runway alternation on the easterlies with the view to redistributing noise around the airport more fairly.

The airport has to be reconfigured to accommodate the new landing patterns. NATS and the CAA will need to identify current schedules can be maintained while the works are undertaken.

Once this work has been done and a schedule of works determined local residents will be informed and consultation begun – works envisaged to take well in excess of 12 months.

Quite separately, from 13th September 2010 essential maintenance work will start which will mean that day time alteration will be suspended – night time alternation will not be affected – work anticipated to last 6 weeks.

*Text of motion agreed by the Assembly at its Plenary meeting on 16 June 2010 can be found here